Josh Duggar Apologizes Amid Sex Abuse Reports, Quits Family Research Council
According to a 2006 police report obtained by In Touch, Duggar admitted to fondling his sisters while they slept when he was a young teenager. In a statement, the now-27-year-old said he deeply regrets his actions.
The oldest son of the Duggar family, made famous by TLC's 19 Kids and Counting, responded to reports Thursday that he had molested his sisters as a teenager.
Joshua Duggar, now 27 with children of his own, wrote on Facebook that he had acted "inexcusably," and was sorry.
"I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life," he wrote. "I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life."
He also on Thursday resigned his position as executive director of FRC Action, the Family Research Council's nonprofit group that lobbies for "faith, family, and freedom" — including advocacy against abortion and marriage rights for same-sex couples.
"Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work. We believe this is the best decision for Josh and his family at this time. We will be praying for everyone involved," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement.
According to a 2006 police report obtained first by In Touch, the Springdale, Arkansas, police department was first notified in December 2006 of suspected sexual abuse involving Duggar.
Harpo Studios in Chicago — the production company founded by Oprah Winfrey — had received an email that day warning against putting the Duggars on TV with some details of alleged molestation involving Josh Duggar.
"They are not what they seem to be," the email said. "I think you should know the truth before they make a complete fool of you and your show."
According to the police report, a family friend had found a letter about the incidents tucked inside a book he or she had received from the Duggars as a loan.
In an interview with authorities in 2006, Jim Bob and Michelle recounted several instances where their children said Josh had fondled the breasts and vaginal areas of his sisters while they were sleeping as well as another instance outside their home. The instances took place in 2002 and 2003, and the Duggars told authorities they then sent their son to a Christian program involving hard work and counseling. Michelle Duggar in a later interview said they had actually sent their son to a friend in Little Rock, Arkansas, who ran a home remodeling business who acted as somewhat of a mentor.
Since Josh had returned home, the Duggars said there had been no more incidents. His sisters had forgiven him, and the family received support from several members of their church. Jim Bob Duggar said he had spoken about it with a state trooper he knew, who gave Josh a "stern talk."
Investigators interviewed several of the Duggar children who described what they remembered about what happened. Most said things had been better in recent years, but one sibling said they did not feel safe at home.
The statute of limitations for the alleged crime — second-degree sexual assault — is three years, and Josh Duggar did not face charges.
Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar on Facebook said the difficult experience brought their family closer to God.
"Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked," they said.
"We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day."
Since then, Joshua Duggar has married and is expecting his fourth child with his wife, Anna.
Anna Duggar said she first learned about Josh's past two years before he asked her to marry him.
"I was able to say, 'Yes' knowing who Josh really is - someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended," she wrote on Facebook. "Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right. I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis."
Through the Family Research Council and his posts on social media, Josh Duggar has been vocal in his support for causes including Indiana's controversial religious freedom bill, a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, and the campaigns of conservative candidates.